Participation in tertiary education in New Zealand.
Students enrolled at New Zealand’s tertiary institutions
The following section summarises the key trends in enrolments and equivalent full-time students (EFTS) at universities, institutes of technology and polytechnics (ITPs), wānanga and government-funded private training establishments (PTEs). The data covers domestic and international students that were enrolled during the 12 months to the end of December 2019. Information on 2019 participation rates will be added once 2019 population estimates become available from Statistics New Zealand.
What does the 2019 data show?
- The overall number of students enrolled in formal study at tertiary providers decreased by 2.0 percent (7,970), from 396,700 in 2018 to 388,730 in 2019.
- Domestic student numbers decreased by 2.2 percent (7,545), from 335,620 to 328,075. This continues a downward trend that started in 2009. International student numbers also decreased slightly by 0.7 percent (425), from 61,080 to 60,655.
- The only ethnic group with an increase in domestic enrolments between 2018 and 2019 was Asian with an increase of 1.7 percent (865), while enrolments for Pacific Peoples were steady (70 additional students). Enrolments for the other major groups both fell (Māori by 2.8 percent and European by 2.4 percent).
- Student numbers decreased overall at ITPs by 4.6 percent (6,135), at wānanga by 6.0 percent (2,265) and at PTEs by 4.9 percent (3,005), but increased overall at universities by 1.5 percent (2,665).
- Decreases in the total study load, measured in EFTS (equivalent full-time student units), mirror the downward pattern in student numbers.
Total student numbers
The overall number of students enrolled in formal study at tertiary education providers in 2019 decreased by 2.0 percent (7,970), from 396,700 in 2018 to 388,730 in 2019. Domestic student numbers decreased by 2.2 percent (7,545), from 335,620 to 328,075. This continues a downward trend that started in 2009. International student numbers decreased by 0.7 percent (425), from 61,080 to 60,655.
|Number of students enrolled||Number of EFTS|
Figure 1: Domestic student enrolments and EFTS 2010-2019, and participation rates 2010-2018
Participation by ethnicity
Table 2 compares domestic enrolments, EFTS and participation rates for the main ethnic groups for 2018 and 2019. Enrolments for Asian students continued to increase in 2019 (by 1.7 percent) in keeping with population change. The largest age group among tertiary students is 20 to 24 years and this age group has trebled in New Zealand’s Asian population over the last 20 years. Enrolments for Pacific Peoples were steady (70 additional students). Enrolments for the other major groups both fell (Māori by 2.8 percent and European by 2.4 percent).
Enrolment changes were reflected in EFTS numbers, with an increase for Asian students (by 1.8 percent) and decreases for other groups in line with decreases in enrolments.
|Ethnicity||Number of students enrolled||Number of EFTS|
Participation by subsector
Most subsectors showed a decrease in student enrolments in 2019. Student numbers decreased overall at ITPs by 4.6 percent (6,135), from 133,450 to 127,315. The decrease at wānanga was 6.0 percent (2,265), from 37,700 to 35,435, with a similar decrease at PTEs by 4.9 percent (3,005), from 60,850 to 57,845. Consistent with 2018, the exception was universities which had an increase in enrolments of 1.5 percent (2,665), from 175,240 to 177,905 (see Table 3).
The largest decreases in domestic enrolments were at wānanga – whose student body is almost wholly domestic – (by 6.0 percent, or 2,265 students) and ITPs (4.7 percent, or 5,405). For international enrolments the largest decrease was for PTEs (17.3 percent, or 2,200) followed by ITPs (4.2 percent, or 730). These decreases were nearly balanced by an increase in international enrolments at universities (by 7.5 percent, or 2,355).
|Subsector||Number of students enrolled||Number of EFTS|
|Institutes of technology and polytechnics||116,015||110,610||-4.7||57,135||53,930||-5.6|
|All public providers||291,840||284,970||-2.4||192,370||188,060||-2.2|
|Private training establishments||48,150||47,345||-1.7||27,900||27,615||-1.0|
|Institutes of technology and polytechnics||17,435||16,705||-4.2||11,390||10,565||-7.2|
|All public providers||48,820||50,460||3.4||35,365||36,450||3.1|
|Private training establishments||12,695||10,495||-17.3||7,620||6,640||-12.9|
|Institutes of technology and polytechnics||133,450||127,315||-4.6||68,530||64,495||-5.9|
|All public providers||340,660||335,430||-1.5||227,730||224,510||-1.4|
|Private training establishments||60,850||57,845||-4.9||35,520||34,255||-3.6|
Participation by qualification level/type
Enrolments in Level 1-7 diploma or certificate level qualifications decreased in 2019. The biggest percentage decrease was for Level 1 certificates (-13.1 percent, or 1,980 students) followed by Level 2 certificates (-11.1 percent, or 2,880 students) and then Level 5-7 certificates and diplomas (-9.9 percent, or 5,505 students). Enrolments in bachelors degrees were relatively stable, increasing by under 1 percent (495 students), and have been above 145,000 since 2016. There was a slight decrease in enrolments for graduate certificates and diplomas (by 0.5 percent, or 80 students), a larger decrease for honours degrees (-2.2 percent, or 735 students). Remaining qualifications showed increases, by 8.9 percent for masters (1,850 students) and 1.8 percent for doctorates (185 students).
|Qualification Level | Type||Number of students enrolled||Number of EFTS|
|Diplomas | Certificates 5-7||55,550||50,045||-9.9||30,060||27,425||-8.8|
|Graduate Diplomas | Certificates||15,155||15,075||-0.5||8,290||7,910||-4.6|
Technical Notes and Definitions
Data relates to students enrolled at any time during the year with a tertiary education provider in formal qualifications of greater than 0.03 EFTS (more than one week's full-time duration). Data excludes all non-formal learning and on-job industry training. Data includes those private training establishments that received Student Achievement Component funding, and/or had students with student loans or allowances, and/or delivered Youth Guarantee programmes. Students are counted in each ethnic group they identify with. Totals also include those students with unknown values. Age has been calculated as at 31 December.
Equivalent full-time student (EFTS):
One equivalent full-time student (EFTS) unit is defined as the student workload that would normally be carried out in a single academic year (or a 12-month period) by a student enrolled full-time.
The total participation rate is the percentage of the population aged 15 years and over who were enrolled at any time during the year. Rates are only calculated for domestic students and those shown on this page have been standardised for age (crude participation rates are available in the full data tables). Participation rates for the 2019 year will be added once 2019 population estimates become available from Statistics New Zealand.
Data, including totals, has been rounded to the nearest 5 to protect the privacy of individuals, so the sum of individual counts may not add to the total.
Provider-based Enrolments Updated: May-2020
Statistics relating to students enrolled in tertiary education providers by a range of demographic and other characteristics.
Provider-based Equivalent Full-time Students Updated: May-2020
Statistics relating to student enrolment in tertiary education providers in terms of equivalent full-time student units.
Participation Rates Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics relating to the percentage of the New Zealand population enrolled in tertiary education.
Provider-based Enrolments: Field of study
of the courses studied at tertiary education providers Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics relating to the field of study of each of the courses a student is enrolled in at tertiary education providers by various student and study characteristics. For example you might use this data to know how many students are studying at least one course in Information Technology.
Provider-based Equivalent Full-time Students: Field of
study of the courses studied at tertiary education providers Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics relating to the number of equivalent full-time students (EFTS) at tertiary education providers by field of study and by various student and study characteristics. This data is collated at the course level. For example you might use this data to know the number of EFTS enrolled in Information technology courses.
Provider-based Enrolments: Predominant field
of study of students at tertiary education providers Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics relating to the predominant field(s) of study of students enrolled at tertiary education providers. This data looks at all the courses studied within a qualification to determine a student's predominant field(s) of study. For example, you might use this data to know how many students are specialising in Information technology.
Participation in Industry Training Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics relating to trainees enrolled in workplace-based learning, including industry training and Apprenticeships.
Rates of progression to further study after graduating Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics about students who undertake further study after completing a tertiary qualification. Data is presented for detailed and grouped qualification levels and types, and for narrow and broad fields of study. Data is available in spreadsheets as filtered lists, or as comma delimited text files for uploading into business intelligence and analytics tools.
Targeted Training Programmes Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics relating to students enrolled in Training Opportunities, Youth Training and Skill Enhancement programmes.
Secondary-Tertiary Alignment Resource (STAR) Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics relating to school students participating in Secondary-Tertiary Alignment Resource (STAR) programmes.
Adult and Community Education Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics relating to participation in non-formal learning, including Adult and Community Education.
Languages Updated: Jun-2019
Statistics relating to participation in language courses.
For tertiary education data enquiries, please email the: Tertiary Mailbox